The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Boehm, Joseph Edgar
Record 25 of 71

System Number: 05230
Date: [20] November 1878[1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: James Anderson Rose[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler R128
Document Type: ALS

'Recd 21 Novr 1878'[3]

Dear Rose -

Another view of the case and a further note for Serj! Parry[4] - First I am known and always have been known to hold an independent position in Art and to have had the Academy[5] opposed to me - That is my position and this would explain away the appearance of Academicians against me - and offering to paint my pictures in five minutes! and I fancy it would be a good thing for Parry to take the initiative and say that Mr Whistler this, - and prepare the Jury for all Academic demonstration - Again I don't stand in the position of the popular picture maker with herds of admirers - my art is quite apart from the usual stuff furnished to the mass [p. 2] and therefor[e] I necessarily have not the large number of witnesses! - In defending me it would be bad policy to try and make me out a different person than the well known Whistler - besides I think more is to be gained by sticking to that character -

However here are one or two more men to be subpoenaed -
Richard Holmes[6] - Queens librarian - Windsor -
Reid[7] - The print room - British Museum -
Charles Keen[8] - 11. Queens Road West - Chelsea
James Tissot[9] - 17. Grove End Road. St Johns Wood
Though I don't think that Whistler ought to have many more than Böehm and Albert Moore[10] -

What would you think of the Revd Haweis[11]? You know he preached about the beauty of the Peacock Room[12] - and I have his printed sermon - it is a perfect poem of praise - he could be subpoenaed to swear to what he had preached! - -

Could you subpoena Prince Teck[13]? to swear that he thought the Peacock Room a great piece of Art? -

Goodnight -

J A McN Whistler

Another thing I have just heard - The other side is not at all so cock sure[14] as they pretend to be! It's a game of bluff my dear Rose - and we mustn't be bounced out!

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [20] November 1878
Day of writing estimated from day before date of receipt.

2.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more]. This relates to preparations for JW's libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. See also notes for the trial, #12003. The suit was in response to Ruskin's criticism of JW's works, especially Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), in his periodical Fors Clavigera. On 2 July 1877 he accused JW of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face' in a review of the I Summer Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery, London. See Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213. The other names mentioned in this letter were of possible witnesses whose evidence might prove JW's position as an established artist. However, in the end, none of them took the stand except Albert Moore.

3.  Recd 21 Novr 1878
Written in upper right-hand corner of page one, in an unknown hand.

4.  Serj. Parry
John Humffrey Parry (1816-1880), Sergeant-at-law [more].

5.  Academy
That is, the Royal Academy.

6.  Richard Holmes
Richard Rivington Holmes (1835-1911), Librarian at Windsor Castle and Sergeant at Arms to Queen Victoria [more].

7.  Reid
George William Reid (1819-1887), Curator, British Museum Print Room [more].

8.  Charles Keen
Charles Samuel Keene (1823-1891), etcher, cartoonist and illustrator [more].

9.  James Tissot
Jacques ('James') Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), painter and etcher [more].

10.  Böehm and Albert Moore
Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-1890), sculptor [more]; and Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more].

11.  Revd Haweis
Rev. Hugh Reginald Haweis (1838-1901), lecturer and journalist [more].

12.  Peacock Room
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), JW's decorative scheme for Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

13.  Prince Teck
Francis Paul Charles Louis Alexander (1837-1900), later Duke of Teck, husband of Princess Mary Adelaide [more].

14.  cock sure
Ruskin's witnesses were Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more]; William Powell Frith (1819-1909), genre and landscape painter [more]; and Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more]. JW gathered the impression from Ruskin's side that numerous witnesses were ready to testify on his behalf (see JW to A. J. Moore, #04167). However, a few days before the trial, it became clear that Ruskin's defence counsel was still having difficulty in obtaining the academician witnesses they had hoped for (see also Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, p. 110).